Have you noticed something about winter? Every year we have really good jobs reports. People start talking about an economic recovery. And it somehow always evaporates by the time spring is in full swing. That’s what I thought when I saw that in February we created 236,000 net new jobs. Ain’t that what we saw last year?
Alas, yes. As Dean Baker pointed out this morning, last year we created 271,000 net new jobs in February. The year before that it was just less than 200,000.
I think we are seeing global warming in our economic data. The reason that the BLS has to constantly revise its jobs reports is that they create seasonally adjusted numbers. There are, for example, more construction jobs in the summer when the weather is good. But our winters have been quite mild the last few years. And this year, over 20% of February’s new jobs were in construction. If we remove these jobs (which isn’t valid, but it gives an idea), the number would be 188,000 net new jobs—much closer to the 160,000 jobs that were expected.
Don’t misunderstand: the jobs report is good. Hooray! But it is almost certain that the next couple of months will see bad jobs numbers because of the Sequester. The sad thing is that the economy is growing right now despite government austerity. The government cut 10,000 jobs in February. And now we are going to see even more. But even if the economy continued to add jobs as we did last month, it would still be after 2020 before we got back to something like full employment.
It is possible that under normal circumstances, this month would be the start of some generally stronger job creation. But instead, Republicans in Congress have decided that they are going to slow any growth we would otherwise see. So take a moment to appreciate our global warming February numbers. The rest of the year should have anemic numbers, and maybe worse.